Sports: Ice hockey could be China’s next big thing

(From China Daily)

It won’t be long before China cultivates more homegrown talents like National Hockey League (NHL) prospect Song Andong.

The country has launched an integrated winter sports development plan aiming at nursing talents from a grassroots level to the elite echelon.

The Hall of Famer ice hockey player Steve Shutt of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League instructs junior players during a training session at Beijing's Champion Rink on Monday.

The Hall of Famer ice hockey player Steve Shutt of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League instructs junior players during a training session at Beijing’s Champion Rink on Monday.

The upbringing of Beijing native Song, who became the first Chinese drafted to the NHL when the New York Islanders selected him last year, highlighted amateur organization’s role in developing elite talents for winter sports. Song spent years playing in Beijing’s junior hockey program.

President Xi Jinping called for development in winter sports as the country gets set to host 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. China’s sports governing body announced on Thursday to include social-funded organizations into a four-tier national winter sports system to better discover and develop promising talents.

The initiative is part of China’s 13th five-year (2016-2020) sports development. It amplifies every aspect of the country’s sports ambition in mass fitness, professional league reform and Olympics program as well as sports industry.

Liu Peng, the director of the State General Administration of Sport of China, said in the next five year, the four-tier winter sports system will channel school promotions through social organizations and municipal training programs to the highest national team level. Read More



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